The Birthday Massacre – Hide and Seek by Victoria Fenbane

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: Out of Line

Tracklisting:

1. Leaving Tonight
2. Down
3. Play With Fire
4. Need
5. Calling
6. Alibis
7. One Promise
8. In This Moment
9. Cover My Eyes
10. The Long Way Home

Review:

‘Hide and Seek’ is the eagerly anticipated 5th Studio album from Canadian cutesy-synth-rockers The Birthday Massacre. Preceded by the well received ‘Pins and Needles’ (released in 2010) they have set the standards high for their current release. In the interim, fans hungry for new material were treated to the excellent “Imaginary Monsters” EP, featuring reworkings from the 4th album by prominent artists and three new songs.

So ‘Hide and Seek’ is here, we’re all a few years older, and TBMs sound has matured with us; as with ‘Pins and Needles’ the lyrical content and overall sound of the band has matured once again meaning ‘Hide and Seek’ is a natural follow-up.

There are no surprises as to the overall sound, but TBM are so distinctive their loyal fans wouldn’t take kindly to a dramatic departure from the expected. Singer Chibi has said about the new album: “We always want to be growing and moving forward. We have a formula for working together, writing and recording, that works – but as we grow and change as people, so will what we create. This records, as always, reflects who and where we are this moment in our lives and with each other

I will say that unusually for a review I have listened to this album several times through, before committing words to screen. It is a very listenable album of 10 well constructed catchy songs of consistent quality throughout.

The album opens with the rainy intro of ‘Leaving Tonight’, is a mid-tempo song strongly focused on the lyrics which tightly sticks to the TBM formula. We’re being eased into this new album with a gentle hug from an old friend.
Once we’re nicely warmed up it’s the turn of ‘Down’, which streamed via YouTube prior the album release, giving fans a hint as to some of the meatiness of this album, meaning there are no nasty surprises for the most dedicated of fans. Chibi’s girly vocals are contrasted by harsher male vocals making this a crunchy stand out song.

Next our ears are soothed by the dark ballad ‘Play with Fire’, which possesses an interestingly varied structure and an overall sense of tension. But those seeking the catchier stuff will skip to the synth laden ‘Need’. Almost Hi-NRG in construction, but of natually without the cheese, and a darker sound overall accompanied by the hook line ‘Bleed me from the heart, Need me for my heart’.

We’re still in 80’s pop territory with ‘Calling’ which is one of the catchiest tunes on the album and sure to be a future single release. This then slips seamlessly into ‘Alibis’ which very strong lyrically and must be listened to. Things get much more upbeat (musically) with ‘One Promise’. Mention of ‘toys’ in the lyrics harks back to TBMs theme of using twisted childhood imagery.

The last three songs tail off somewhat in terms of tempo but ‘In this Moment’ will be a favourite of some fans being a lighter waving ballad. ‘Cover My Eyes’ takes the tempo down further with the album ending on ‘Long Way Home’.

Overall ‘Hide and Seek’ is not all that different to ‘Pins and Needles’. The shift to a mature sound in the preceding album was more dramatic when compared to previous material, but ‘Hide and Seek’ gives us more of that same good stuff.

The two albums could be mixed up and listened to together due to their styles being so similar. The new album is obviously going to be a massive hit with fans and may win a few new ones too. This could have been a 4.5/5 but they lose marks for trailing off at the end. It is still well worth a listen for fans of synth-rock alternative sounds.

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